Categories
BBC Climate Change English Science Skepticism

Why is the BBC Biased Against Climate Change Sceptics?

Letter sent to Richard Black, Environment correspondent, BBC News website

Dear Richard

I am not sure what you’ve set yourself up to show regarding “climate sceptics“, in the week “ahead of the launch of the IPCC’s synthesis report for 2007“.

First you treat the “sceptics community” as if it were some kind of monolith, or a political party (“Unravelling the sceptics“, Nov 12).

May I respectfully remind you that it is the Anthropogenic Global Warming proponents that need demonstrate their proposition, not the other way around.

In science, there’s usually only one way to agree, but lots of ways to disagree with something.

So what is “in the fringe” is as varied as it gets: outside the mainstream you will find those honestly doubting the Accepted Truth, alongside people with dodgy goals, and of course plenty of nutters.

It is not for the honest sceptics to answer for the dishonest ones, or for the fools.

And even among those sincerely disbelieving the IPCC’s claims, there will be quite a large range of opinions. That’s because they are not mainstream.

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Today (Nov 14) you have published another baffling article “Climate science: Sceptical about bias”  where you argue almost nobody provided you with evidence backing the accusations the “science itself is against” climate sceptics.

First of all it is a rather naive accusation you’ve decided to argue against. How can “science itself” be against scepticism of any sort?

At most, it would be the scientific Establishment that will show reluctance in admitting being wrong.

Anyway, in that article you proceed lamenting the dearth of evidence, only then to dismiss the biggest of it all, Nature’s rejection of Stephen McIntyre’s and Ross McKitrick’s rebuttal of Michael Mann’s Hockey Stick.

Please do make up your mind: either you are looking for evidence, or you are not looking for evidence.

The fact that you were looking for small stuff should not prevent you from seeing the big “elephant in the room”.

Also if you decide to mention something only to state that it “has been so well documented elsewhere” can you please insert at least a link of where that “elsewhere” is. It’s full of links on all BBC news pages, you know, so there must be a chance for you to help your readers investigate further, at least your own claims.

By the way, are you aware that the BBC and the IPCC have themselves pretty much rejected the Hockey Stick?

Look at this graph from one of the “In Depth” pages

That graph resembles no Hockey Stick anybody will ever want to play with. Looks more like a wide-bodied, irregular golf club…

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And finally since you like challenges, how about this one: can you please point me to a page on the BBC new website showing present evidence for climate change?

I do not want to see one of the many lists of things that may, could, perhaps will happen.

All I can find is “Climate change: The evidence” that speaks of tiny raises in temperature, centimeters of melting ice and millimeters of rising seas.

You must admit it does not look like the clearest of cases.

ADDENDUM NOV 21

Richard Black has responded. Here my reply to his private message. All text below is of course mine.

(about lack of evidence for anti-sceptic bias)
You’re missing something very important there. Let me try to convey the message with a made-up report:

***
“Women are not much at risk of domestic violence”, journalist Mr Red reported today. “I have sent a questionnaire to many of them but few bothered to respond. There is little evidence to support that claim”.
***

(about what “warmers” are finding out in the “real world”)
The real-world stuff is what I am studying at the moment.

In the AR4-WG2 documente there is a map repeated several times (eg fig 1.9, p 116) with numbers and percentages for observed physical and biological changes.

Now, there is an extremely large majority of “data samples” coming from biological changes in Europe (28,115 out of a total of 29,373). Furthermore: of those 28,115 “biological European data sets”, 89% are “consistent with warming”. In other words, 3,093 “biological European” changes (11%) are “NOT consistent with warming”. That is almost three times more than the total 1,177 number of observed changes outside of “biological European” and “consistent with warming”.

I still think the “warmers” need to demonstrate their case better than that.

(about the lack of skeptical articles in mainstream scientific publications)
Aren’t you arguing ad autoritatem there…

And don’t you know, when people publish for example on “Energy&Environment”, we are told that it’s not good enough.

regards
maurizio

Categories
English Environment Ethics Humanity International Herald Tribune Journalism Letters

Twenty Missing, Three Dead, No Space on the Front Page

Letter To the Editors of the International Herald Tribune

As a long-time subscriber of the IHT I write to complain about your absurd choice of playing down both the death of 3 sailors during the recent storms in the Black Sea, and the fact that 20 more are missing and likely dead themselves due to the cold.

In the front page of the IHT’s paper edition of Nov 13, there is a short unsigned article titled “Counting losses in Black Sea storm“. In 59 words there is not a single mention of the human losses, and the reader is left with the impression that the ships’ captains and owners will be sued only for “environmental damage“. Has human life become as cheap as to be free to be taken?

True, there is a larger article at page 2, by Andrew E Kramer, where finally we learn of the human tragedy in the title “Black Sea toll: 3 dead and 20 lost“. This appears to be similar to an article on the IHT web site, again by Mr Kramer, although over there it is titled “Environmental disaster unfolding in Russia“.

The paper version starts “Three dead sailor and dozen of birds slicked with oil…“. Just a few words later “Another 20 sailors were missing“. Roughly a little less than half of the piece is dedicated to environmental issues (but again, there is no mention of any ongoing prosecution for the loss of human life).

The online version starts with “An environmental disaster began to unfold” and only talks about humans in the second paragraph. But then, dead and missing people are literally forgotten about, and roughly more than three quarters of the article is about environmental problems. For the third time, the only mentioned prosecution is about “environmental damage“.

Interestingly, in the paper article a Greenpeace Russia campaigner, Vladimir Chuprov, is said to have “called the spill a catastrophe of local rather than international scale“. No such a thing is mentioned online.

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All in all the above indicates a very poor choice by front-page and online Editors to find an excuse to push the “right buttons” about the environment, for some unfathomable reason deciding to play down the human cost of the Black Sea storm.

Shall we worship the Environment to the point of forgetting the people? That is a false dichotomy. We can take care of the environment and take care of humans too.

Please try.

Categories
English Environment

Japan Shows the Way to Limitless Growth

Why didn’t anybody else think this before?

Alas…”some environmentalists and local residents are skeptical of the new projects. With no rivers left to straighten, they say, the authorities nowadays are simply starting to curve them instead

Actually, I have a recollection of Soviet tanks being shipped anew to be converted into scrap metal, in order to boost the production reports of both industries.

Categories
English UK War

A Different Way to Celebrate Remembrance Day

Who knows, perhaps some future Prime Minister will take advantage of the somber celebrations on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month to announce 11 (or more) years of peace for the British State that “over the last 200 years… has waged more wars and won more conflicts than any other nation in the world

Categories
English Science Skepticism Sociology

Genetics, IQ and Racism

Why do many potentially intelligent people decide to look and sound silly for generations to come? Or “given enough bales you’ll find a few straws in all the colors of the rainbow”…

Some bloggers (and likely, some scientists) whose names and URLs I won’t spend a minute linking to, have started using the latest discoveries in biology to suggest “genetics differences between races” and a linking between high IQ and “several snippets of DNA“.

In other words, there are people out there hell-bent in demonstrating that blacks are inferior to whites.

They are wrong. And it’s not a case of being “politically incorrect“…rather, it’s an example of how to be “idiotically incorrect“.

In fact, haven’t we seen this whole circus before (just read Stephen Jay Gould’s “The Mismeasure of Man“)? A circus where invariably:

(1) The most recent scientific findings get used to provide a rational basis to existing prejudices

(2) People jump to “certain conclusions” even before any scientific article is published

(3) Legitimacy is given to the incoherent notion that skin color can be used to classify people into racial groups, but only up to a point: so a Sicilian becomes a White like a Swede, and a Wolof from Senegal becomes a Black like an Oromo from Ethiopia

(I myself am semi-officially White during winter time, then after two weeks in the sun demonstrably a tad more black than an Ethiopian)

(4) It always boils down to black inferiority and white superiority. In fact, never ever in the History of Biology there has been any hint of consensus about the notion that blacks are superior to whites, or far-east asians superior to whites.

(5) We are told that even if it may be difficult to accept, still we have to accept that Blacks be inferior to Whites, because Science is said to say so

(6) People opposing such views are labeled as left-leaning “defenders of social justice” (i.e., “communists”)

(7) The discourse moves then to show Men, White Men that is, as superior to Women. Next, to show that White Men with Ancestors from Northern European Countries are superior to everybody else.

(8) After making a big mess, such a stale soup of fallacies is shown false but then only goes into some kind of “sleep mode” ready to come back to make many potentially intelligent people look and sound silly for generations to come.

This happens every few decases. Truly we never learn anything from history.

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On my side, the issue is not about defending social justice or imposing equality to all in the face of contrary evidence.

The issue is that if something has been shown wrong in the past, again and again, then it cannot be accepted as “true” unless there is some extraordinary evidence supporting it.

And at every round, the notch for “extraordinary” gets a little bit higher. I am afraid that the discovery of a few “snippets” among the thousands and thousands available appears way too ordinary, and at best the result of bad statistical analysis applied to extremely large sample sizes (in other words: given enough bales you’ll find a few straws in all the colors of the rainbow)

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All in all, I am starting to believe that the one difference between races, is in the genes that predispose to developing an Inferiority Complex.

Those genes are obviously very powerfully expressed among Racist White Men. In fact, for what other reason would they feel the need to try again, and again, and again, to find a scientific basis for their most stupid thoughts?

Categories
English NASA Space

Woman Clocked Driving in Florida at 220mph

It’s an old joke but still a good one

 

Categories
catastrophism Culture English Sociology

Affluence’s Curse

When everything is due, anything that goes missing causes a tragedy

Why is it that the most affluent societies are the ones where the fear of the future becomes some kind of collective Phobia of the Novelty, mixed up with a morbid fascination for dreaming up their own, however improbable, catastrophes?

Conversely, what makes quite poor people keep their hopes high for the future? If we could restrict ourselves purely to risk analysis, the opposite would be true.

Being rich means having a multitude of metaphorical cushions protecting one’s fall, for example being able to buy actual insurances.

For many instead, being poor means finding oneself wondering if there will be anything to eat for dinner.

And yet it’s in the Affluent West, plus Japan that blatant absurdities like the Principle of Precaution are fashionable.

I won’t even mention how many people are hooked into believing in toto the interminable series of catastrophical environmental reports that nowadays grace newspapers almost as commonly as gossip columns.

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One way to understand such a paradox is via what can be called “the Curse of Affluence“.

Humans naturally being hoarding animals, they have no qualms in pretending that everything they can get their hands onto is actually due to them.

Therefore, the more they have, the higher their fear some, any of it may disappear.

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Imagine one earns $25,000/year. Having been particularly good at their job, he/she gets a promotion and a salary of $40,000.

The happiness that brings disappears quickly though, and the following year the new level will be considered a given, not an achievement.

One will soon start to yearn for a higher salary still. Not only that: the new income will have surely brought a few more luxuries in one’s life. Losing those would feel like an abysmal failure: anxiety for the future will therefore kick in.

If left unchecked, that anxiety will increase more and more with increasingly higher salaries.

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If we apply the same line of thought to a society of people, then we can understand why they would all live in fear of losing their affluence rather than trying to enjoy it while they have it.

If everything is due, then anything that goes missing is in itself a tragedy (it works the other way around: if nothing is due, than anything that is obtained is a cause for celebration).

At the end then, a whole nation of rich people may as well stop functioning, with each one of them paralyzed by the fear of losing any of their innumerable luxuries, life included.

With the trap of a pessimistic Decadence bubble growing larger and larger, progress is then passed on to those that are not yet rich enough. And so on.

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To free affluent societies from their fears, first of all risk management should be made part of the school curriculum, like literature or maths. Also, people must be reminded for example via museums of the terrible aspects of non-affluent life.

In general, anything that would expose them to the practicalities of being dirt poor will definitely help. Just as (of course!) the spreading of a simple concept: that the neverending accumulation of stuff can only kill all hopes.

Categories
English Humanity Overpopulation

Overpopulation’s Roots

One day within the last three hundred thousand years, a human not yet Sapiens cried the loss of a child.

Humanity has been trying since not to survive its progeny.

I say, even if mortality rates vary a lot across the world, all in all as a species we have achieved such a goal.

Overpopulation should be a source of pride, not just of worries

Categories
English Humanity

Formula for a Happier Life

Absolutely disregard all opinions you don’t like

Categories
catastrophism Climate Change English Science Skepticism

Sense and Global Warming

From a message by Willis Eschenbach:

I also think that increasing GHGs [greenhous gases] will warm the earth … but that is not the real question to me. The real question is, how much it will warm the earth. To date, I have not seen any “useful quantitative results” regarding that question […] …

Once those quantitative results are in, we can proceed to the next question: is a warmer earth better or worse on balance?

The globe has warmed quite a bit since the 1600s, and in general this has been of benefit to humans. The sea level rise from the historical warming has not been a significant problem. In addition, a warmer world is predicted to be a wetter world, which overall can only be a good thing.

So, will warming be a problem, or a benefit? This is a very open question, and one which will be difficult to answer as some areas will win and some will lose. To date, however, recent warming seems to be occurring outside the tropics, in the night-time, in the winter … this does not seem like a bad thing.

And at some future date when those questions are answered, we can proceed to the final question, viz: If GHGs are determined to be a major cause of the warming (as opposed to land-use changes, or black carbon on snow, or dark colored aerosols, etc) and if we determine that the warming will be on balance a negative occurrence, is there a cost-effective way to reduce the GHGs, or are we better off putting our money into adaptation?

Until we can answer all of those questions, we should restrict ourselves to actions which will be of value whether or not there is future warming.

The key is to realize that all of the problems that Al Gore is so shrill about are here now with us today – floods, heat waves, famine, rising sea levels, droughts, cold spells, and all of the apocalyptic catalog are occurring as I write this.

Anything we can do to insulate the world’s population from these climate problems will be of use to everyone no matter what the future climate holds.

That is, “anything we can do to insulate the world’s population from these climate problems” “here and now.

And that’s exactly what climate change catastrophists (not to mention climatofascists) cannot seem to grasp, with their fixation on GHG reduction, and their absurdist mixing of known problems with potential issues, like in the recent UN Geo-4 report.

Categories
Astronomy Astronomy & Space English Science

The Elementary Coincidence of Watson and Holmes

Has anybody else noticed that Watson, the DNA structure discoverer, has “switched off the lights upstairs” just as Holmes, the comet, has brightened up almost a million times?

Categories
English India IT Outsourcing

Indianification – Part 1

Namaskaara

Mumdalli, raayruglu IT-ina bhaarata kade

Hogi Barthene!

Gomaalanasu Durgadesha

Categories
Climate Change English

Misguided Attempt at Pleading for Reduced Carbon Emissions

Unfortunately, nobody could remember having even looked at the placards…

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google or wikipedia “miss earth 2007” to know more about the latest attempt at taking advantage of contemporary trends

Categories
English International Herald Tribune

Campaign Sites Cannot Click

Alex Beam wonders on the pages of the Boston Globe and the International Herald Tribune why “campaign sites just don’t click“, i.e. (not his words) why the web sites of 99.999% of politicians make people cringe if not inspire immediate visit to YouTube to watch awful Britney Spears dance routines instead.

I have my dream answer to that.

Campaign site can’t click because on the Internet sincerity can only be faked for a limited amount of time, only to change into ridicule.

And so despite what media gurus will try to sell, until a sincere politician shows up, campaign sites will never “click”

Categories
English Environment Science UK

UK: The Abominable Cull of Badgers

Sir David King, the rather hyperactive UK Government’s Chief Scientist, has decided to forego the results of scientific research and propose a cull of badgers for the sake of stopping the spreading of Bovine Tuberculosis (bTB).

What scientific research? Three major aspects, for a start: first of all, the finding that only a complete and extremely expensive eradication of all badgers would work, as they naturally move away from areas where they are getting killed; then, the universally-accepted figure of 40% of cattle bTB cases caused by badgers, that is leaving 60% of them out of the picture; and finally, the fact that there is an ongoing trial for a vaccine that would protect cattle from bTB, so the destruction of wild animals may not be needed at all.

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We should ask ourselves, what would a cull be for? Let’s imagine a wholesale campaign of destruction of badgers were feasible: what kind of environment would the UK be left with? Do badgers spend their time spreading bTB, or rather do what badgers usually do, namely eat lots of other animals, and some vegetables and fruits?

How can the newly-found fashion of Being Green turn into the killing of animals?

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Sir David has come up with the ridiculous idea that “culling could be effective in areas that are contained, for example, by the sea or motorways“.

I can already see the badgers stop by the Big Road thinking, it’s too wide for us, let’s get back and get exterminated

Hopefully the UK Agriculture and Environment Ministry (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) will keep doing nothing, especially as 95% of the public has expressed itself against the idea of a cull of badgers.

But it is telling that the push to destroy so much animal life comes from the same Sir David that, in the name of Science, has already said that Climate Change is a bigger threat than Terrorism, and helped prepare a report on the basis of which it has been said that (yawn!) Obesity is as much a problem as Climate Change?

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As said by Professor John Bourne, Sir David’s reason to forgo the results of Science is “consistent with the political need to do something about [bTB]“.

That the same person may yell for the whole of humanity to change lifestyle to protect the environment in the future, whilst arguing to slaughter wild animals in the present, is a sad indictment of that politicised “Science” that can demonstrate everything and its opposite.

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ps: bTB is a problem for farmers. What should they do? It is true that “cows are also entitled to lives“, as a farmer told the BBC, but…are we sure that such an entitlement must signify the systematic destruction of another species?

For farmers then, how about helping finding ways to improve testing for bTB, keep the badgers out, to vaccinate the herds, to manage/cure the disease?

There’s lots of things that could be solved by extermination, but who’s going to kill all cats and dogs to cut down the number of cases of zoonoses, the diseases that can spread from animals to people?

Categories
English Formula One

Brazil Grand Prix: Formula 1 or Piston Cup? – UPDATED

The Brazil Grand Prix is looking uncannily like the Piston Cup in Pixar’s “Cars” movie.

Will Disney ask for a substantial cheque???

–UPDATE AT 22:41: Hamilton may get the Championship after all, if the BMWs and Williamses are confirmed having too cold a fuel in their tanks.

This is now even more suspenseful than the Piston Cup!!!

Categories
China English Olympics Politics

The silliness of boycotting the Beijing Olympics

A serious effort to use the Olympics to promote freedoms in China would have started in 2001, as soon as Beijing had been selected, and would have continued relentless since.

Seven years of campaigning would have surely achieved something.

A boycott at this late stage would instead be mainly a marketing gimmick: a bit like with those NGOs that target Nike for harsh labour conditions, but only Nike, because their target is getting their names in the news rather than actually improving anybody’s life.

There is already an example showing the way. If Jesse Owens had boycotted the Nazi Olympics of 1936, who would have embarassed Hitler? And so people wanting to make a statement about China better have the courage to do it in Beijing itself.

Categories
BBC English Humor MNN

BBC to Cut 10% of the Newsroom

London, 19 Oct (MNN) – BBC News w ll be cut y 10%, Directo General Ma k Thompson nnounced.

W do not beli ve there wi l be much of change for ur users”, Mr hompson ad ed.

After al it is a mino ity amount nd 90% will s ill be ther after the cu s”. Asked if f rther redu tions will e done in the uture, Mr Th mpson appe red tentat ve. “Well, we h ve done sev ral experi ents about hat, but res lts are not lear”. “I s pp se t i po si le o c t a mu h a 33%”, e co cl de , “b t r m 50% o w r s t e l y e o e c u t r r d c i e

Categories
Atheism Christianity English Europe

About The Christian Roots of the Enlightenment

As then-Cardinal Ratzinger once said, “The affirmation [about] the Christian roots of Europe […] relates, first of all, to an historical fact that no one can seriously deny“.

And obviously not just of Europe, but of pretty much everything European, including of course all that has been born from European minds. Including, that is, the Enlightenment.

Why can’t anybody seriously deny that? Because philosophical movements cannot appear out of thin air. Of course, Locke, Hume, Voltaire, Rousseau and the others could not use Shinto or Zoroastrian ways of thinking, but Christian ones, because they were educated by, were thinking like and had to always confront themselves with Christian culture(s).

There are six sections dedicated to The Soul in Voltair’s Philosophical Dictionary. None to the Buddhist concept of Nirvana. QED.

Check the answers to my series of blogs on Atheism. All too often, all too tellingly people nominally “without-a-god” reply with a frame of mind that actually implies a personal, omnipotent God.

That is, the Christian God.

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One thing I don’t understand is why something as obvious as the above should be controversial. Or perhaps I do understand: simply, the people that will shout the most against Christianity are bound to be the ones that despite claiming Atheism are actually Christian through and through, and they hate themselves for that.

Little hope to have a serious discussion with them.

But what does the above mean? Have we discovered the Last Stand for the Children of the Enlightenment? Should they be forced to honestly admit their roots are Christian?

I’m afraid not: because if Europe has Christian roots, those are not the only roots (Jewish and Islamic roots should be added of course, and that’s mentioning only the religious side…).

And if everybody should accept that the Enlightenment has (also) Christian roots, then everybody should accept that Christianity has (also) Pagan roots.

An enormous amount of time has been dedicated by people in the Church(es) to reconcile Jesus’ thoughts with Greek Philosophy, from the Gospel of St John onwards. Just as for the Enlightenment, the “new message” of Christianity had to be communicated by people to people.

The only way to do that was and is by using contemporary imagery, ways of thinking, categories of thought and historical philosophical arguments. Many of these were (“Pagan”) Greek at the time of Jesus, and so in our part of the world Christianity had to be built from Pagan Greek roots. QED once again…

Categories
English peace Politics

Doris Lessing on “Raising Consciousness”

The IHT decided to reprint today a June 1992 Op-Ed piece on The New York Times by Doris Lessing: “On Political Correctness – Questions you should never ask a writer

The topicality of some of the thoughts of the Nobel Laureate in Literature for 2007 is uncanny:

[…] ways of thinking that were either born under Communism or strengthened by Communism still govern our lives […] The first point: language. It is not a new thought that Communism debased language and, with language, thought […]

The second point is linked with the first. Powerful ideas affecting our behavior can be visible only in brief sentences, even a phrase – a catch phrase. All writers are asked this question by interviewers: “Do you think a writer should. . .?” “Ought writers to. . .?” […]

the assumption behind the words is that all writers should do the same thing, whatever it is. […] Another is “commitment,” so much in vogue not long ago. Is so and so a committed writer?

A successor to “commitment” is “raising consciousness.” This is double-edged. The people whose consciousness is being raised may be given information they most desperately lack and need, may be given moral support they need. But the process nearly always means that the pupil gets only the propaganda the instructor approves of.

“Raising consciousness,” like “commitment,” like “political correctness,” is a continuation of that old bully, the party line. […]

Categories
English Risk Social Networks

Perception of Risks, Social Networks and Globalization

A radical rethink of the concept of risk is needed in light of globalization and the availability of social networking and communications tools

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There was a time when big news would happen only to complete strangers on TV. Then came e-mail, and Usenet, and groups: and so when TWA800 exploded on July 17, 1996 I knew the brother of one of the dead. Time moved on, and on September 11, 2001 an acquaintance of mine was working in one of the World Financial Center’s buildings (he survived)

When the tsunami arrived at Phuket in Thailand on December 26, 2004, a very close friend of mine was there (he survived too). Finally during the attacks in London on July 7, 2005 one of the dead was Colin Morley, fellow member of Ecademy, the online social and business networking site I belong to since 2003.

Sounds ominous doesn’t it? But it should not be seen as a sign that there is an aura of bad luck around me.

Rather, as per Jeremy Waldron’s great insight in this week’s The New York Review of Books (“Is This Torture Necessary?“, Vol 54, N. 16 · October 25, 2007), the point is that security “is not just an individual good, enjoyed by each of us as a matter of [individual] statistical probability“.

Security must be rethought as a group’s, not just a person’s. Even if on 9/11 “99.999 percent of the US population […] were not killed“, the fact that 2,974 did was a hit on the sense of security of all that could imagine themselves being in the WTC, at the Pentagon or on United 93.

That’s why the fear of a major terrorist attack or any other large catastrophe appears superficially absurd, given each one of us’s infinitesimal probability to be involved. In reality, it’s not “how bad is the risk for me?” but “how bad is the risk for ‘my group’?”

This concept can be expanded further. The first ports of call for one’s feeling of belonging to a group are obviously family, friends and acquaintances/colleagues (in contemporary terms, one’s “active social network”, to the exclusion of the people one is not in touch any longer).

What may or does happen to one’s “active social network” will affect one’s sense of security.

This means in turn that the more people one knows and stay in touch with, the lower the sense of one’s own security. Actually, the cumulative chance of anybody in one’s active social network to be involved in a large catastrophe gets higher and higher as time goes by.

And in a globalized world where people travel around, and the possibility to get to know more people increases, things can only get worse. As something “bad” is bound to happen to somebody sometime, having a big enough active social network will guarantee a hefty supply of tragedies.

If we could be acquainted with every other human being, life would be very very hard to bear.

This is a rather unfortunate, unintended consequence of social networking tools, including basic e-mail.

—-

Anyway, there are two silver linings to that.

First of all, just as tragedies will be in plentiful supply, so will causes of celebrations. We just have to work out a way to make those travel as fast as bad news already do.

Second, the more we know each other, the less we will be able to just harm each other. As all genocidal Dictators know, it is much harder to kill people when they are people, instead of faceless enemies.

Categories
English Kosovo peace UN

Kosovo: Dream a Dream Against the Nightmares of Reason

New, unreasonable, absurd ideas are needed to prevent diplomatic logic from perpetrating new injustice in Kosovo thereby prolonging the conflict for many years to come

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After years of postponements, the international crisis around the Kosovo region in the Balkans will climax in a little less than two months.

According to the intentions of the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, 10 December 2007 will be the final date for the negotiations between Serbia and its Southern province, whose Albanian majority have been out of Belgrade’s control from 1999.

International mediator Martti Ahtisaari has published a Plan with a series of recommendations that include independence for Kosovo. But in all likelihood negotiations will keep failing. And then in December the USA will follow the Ahtisaari Plan, but Russia will not, further attracting Serbia in its orbit.

In the meantime the European Unione (EU) will demonstrate its independence from Moscow by following the path indicated by Washington: thus doing nothing to heal one of the Continent’s most difficult conflicts.

Europeans have been developing for 60 years the art of postponing comprehensive solutions thereby creating more problems. In December 1991, the Union recognized the independence of Croatia and Slovenia, intently to stop the war between Zagreb and Belgrade but in practice triggering the long Bosnian conflict.

The Kosovo issue can be traced back to a geopolitical decision taken 130 years ago above the heads of the inhabitants. At the time the Albanians were denied independence by German Chancellor Bismarck. They got it then in 1913 but only on a chunk of Historical Albania. Substantial amounts of ethnic Albanians were stranded in Serbia, Greece and Macedonia.

The common trait of this history is that nobody has never asked the Albanians’ opinion. Even in Kosovo, the “liberation” has come from American bombs, not the local guerrilla. And from 1999, although elections have been held, the province has effectively been in the hands of the UN, following Security Council Resolution 1244.

Serbs haven’t much to celebrate from history either. Conquered by the Ottomans in 1389 despite winning an epic battle just in Kosovo, they achieved international recognition at the mentioned 1878 Conference, but then lost much of male population facing the Austrian Empire in World War I. Nazis,

Croats and Italians literally and figuratively cut them to pieces (not just figuratively) in World War II. Then, after relative prosperity under Tito’s Communism, the Serbs fought wars nearly for the entire ten years of the extraordinarily aggressive nationalist/socialist Presidency of Slobodan Milosevic.

Serbia is today a nation with a most serious image problem, seven years after nonviolent popular revolution sent the Dictator to die in an international jail. Its path towards becoming a modern democracy is still not easy, with nationalists always too close to power, a First Minister killed by the Mafia, and a list of fugitive war criminals.

With a rancorous attitude, Brussels and Washington relentlessly seem to treat the entire Serbian Nation as “guilty”, somehow illogically after making so much effort to inspire the local democrats.

Unfortunately, one point seems to escape most: Serbs are Europeans, as much as the Italians, the Portuguese and the Germans (and the Albanians).

In truth their society developed a Communist dictatoriship; there is still lots of corruption and Mafia near the power centers; some Serbs have committed atrocities, covering themselves in blood for ethnic cleansing, concentration camps and mass killings. Two egregious war criminals (Karadzic and Mladic) are still on the run.

But doesn’t precisely that make the Serbs truly European? Their history has many correspondences with the rest of the Continent’s: Communist Party; Italian fascism; Nazi genocide; and the many European war criminals never brough in front of a court of law.

And it would not be difficult to continue.

More: the EU is the fruit of the epochal paradigm shift of 1951, when France and Germany, Latin Europe and German Europe, renounced war in the European Coal and Steel Community, some 1942 years after the slaughter of the lost legions of Varus in the Teutoburg forest.

The EU is the foremost peacemaking experiment in the History of Humanity, more important because more complex also than those 4,000 completely demilitarized miles between USA and Canada.

But if peace is where the idea of Europe begins, that’s where it may end (or jam, perhaps). And so only an enlargement that would include Serbia, the former adversary, would sanction the Continental “completion” of the EU, exactly because for years Serbia has been the enemy to isolate and to bomb.

(two points for clarity: the enlargement to include Albania is also important but it appears a question of time…from a strategic point of view, it has happened already. And the other “missing pieces” from the Continent (Switzerland, Norway, Iceland) are in all but paper members of the Union, having to adhere to almost all of its directives and regulations).

Finally, without Serbia, and indeed if Serbia voluntarily and angrily refused to join the EU in open contrast to the dream of the founders (Spinelli, Monnet, Schuman), the Union would have to waste time and resources on that inner wound ready to spill blood at the first opportunity: bye-bye to further expansion with Turkey, the Ukraine, Morocco and Israel!

==========

Unfortunately, this is the most likely future.

In the Kosovar crisis international diplomacy has shown all its limits, and especially its “Curse of Reason”, with perfectly logical behaviors by all protagonists combining in perfectly illogical, and disastrous collective decisions.

Think of the tragic chain of events that changed the solid European equilibrium before the Sarajevo murder in 1914 to the suicidal years of the First World War; think also of the War of Korea, stopped on July 27, 1953 at the same border where it started on June 25, 1950, minus four million dead.

In Kosovo too, everybody behaves according to logic. For the local Albanians, independence is now a goal they thought they had reached a year ago. For the Serbs in Pristina and Belgrade, keeping Kosovo as a province is the last bastion to defend national dignity, having been divorced by Slovenes, Croats, Bosniacs, Macedonians and Montenegrins.

The larger fish couldn’t disagree more either. The USA have repeteadly declared their intention to recognize the independence of Kosovo, in opposition to Russia, while the EU awaits unanimity and so can only show paralisis.

It is hard to imagine how could any “logical” solution satisfy all the parties. Indeed, every “practical idea” guarantees the perpetration of this or that injustice: an independent Kosovo would be evidence for the Serbs that their interests are of no concern to the USA and the EU: frankly, one put-down too many, and without any strong reason why.

Declaring Kosovo as a province of Serbia would mean in turn the betrayal of years of expectations, and would alienate the Kosovars without eliciting so much as a “thank you” note” from Belgrade or Moscow.

Leaving the status quo would not help the development of a territory that is getting addicted to international aid, and where the way to riches passes through the local Mafia and drug smuggling.

==============

Some new solution is needed for Kosovo: an unreasonable, absurd, impratical idea and for those very reasons logical, reasonable and indeed practical, a lot more than the Cold and Warm Wars (and probably, the dead people) that otherwise await all of us in the future, almost with absolute certainty.

What kind of solutions? Offering independence to a smaller Kosovo, cut out according to pre-1999 ethnic lines plus adjustments, with the territories with Serbian majorities conceded to Serbia? Implementing a customs union of Serbia, Kosovo and Albania that would simplify their EU accession negotiations whilst rendering obsolete the issue of Kosovo independence?

Offering free circulation of people between Serbia and independent Kosovo, with generous aids for Serbs to repatriate? Setting aside independence in favor of a “macualted” federal state? Guaranteeing to Serbia the immediate accession to the EU as soon as the necessary laws are implemented, and in any case not after Croatia and Turkey?

Re-admitting Belgrade to the assembly of nations without the lasting distrust and independently from the situation with the war criminals? Compensating the civil Serbian victims of the 1999 war?

None of those questions may be the answer: indeed, they could be all and only Dreams.

However, what has the Powers’ diplomacy to offer, but Nightmares?

Categories
catastrophism Climate Change Conflict resolution Darfur English Policy Science Skepticism UN

IgNobel Peace Prize A More Likely Contribution to Peace than Al Gore’s

Apparently one of the reasons for Al Gore and the IPCC to receive the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize relates to “green” being nowadays equal to “peace”.

This is absolutely a fantasy as there are many, many wars and conflicts around the world and not even one can honestly be related to climate change or global warming.

The one example that is always used is the remote possibility that increased drought would be behind the Darfur genocide. Such a link has been fabricated in a recent UN report and it is a shameful way of abandoning all those women and children while providing a ready-made excuse for the people committing the genocide.

All that, because a bunch of rich people fear that world temperature may go up 2C in 40 or 100 years, and can only get their worries on top of everybody’s agendas by stocking up fears?

The issues about Darfur have nothing to do with climate. And in any case, on the entire rest of the surface of the planet there is not a single other place where armed conflicts can be even remotely connected to any presumed, measure or modelled change in the climate.

Israel is bombing nuclear targets in Syria and Damascus did not even complain, and we think that peace will come from lowering CO2 in the atmosphere??

———

The contribution by Al Gore and the IPCC to present or future peace remains a mystery indeed. And other big questions remain open:

  • Why give a Prize before the fact, when we do not even have a Kyoto-II Agreement?
  • Why a political award to what is supposed to be a non-policy-making international body of scientists like the IPCC?
  • Why not a Nobel Prize in Physics for the IPCC if the science of global warming is strong enough to justify their efforts that earned them a Peace Prize?
  • Why can’t concerned IPCC scientists group themselves outside of the Panel, thus separating Science from politics?

All in all, this year’s IgNobel Peace Prize does seem a more likely contribution to peace than what Al Gore and the IPCC have not yet done:

PEACE: The Air Force Wright Laboratory, Dayton, Ohio, USA, for instigating research & development on a chemical weapon — the so-called “gay bomb” — that will make enemy soldiers become sexually irresistible to each other.
REFERENCE: “
Harassing, Annoying, and ‘Bad Guy’ Identifying Chemicals,” Wright Laboratory, WL/FIVR, Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, June 1, 1994.

A bit far-fetched, perhaps, especially about attracting annoying creatures, eliciting halitosis and the extraordinary application of the old slogan Make Love Not War to the battlefield: still, the Wright Laboratory’s efforts were (are?) about changing the nature of the armed conflicts of today, not the ones some very worried people are imagining now will happen in five or more decades.

Categories
catastrophism Climate Change English Nobel Science

Nobel Peace Prize awarded to alarmist prone to shout off questioners…

…and to Intergovernmental Panel that discards all commentaries that are not “on-message”.

Fortunately Lysenko has been dead for a few years otherwise next year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry would have been his.

And it’s the first time in history that a Nobel Prize has been assigned not in recognition of the past, not as a reward for the present, but for reasons that may, perhaps, happen sometimes in the future…


A reminder of Al Gore’s attitudes:

…after the interview [Al Gore] and his assistant stood over me shouting that my questions had been scurrilous, and implying that I was some sort of climate-sceptic traitor.”

Here also a link to the full reasons for a British High Court Justice to state that “some of the errors, or departures from the mainstream, by Mr Gore in An Inconvenient Truth in the course of his dynamic exposition, do arise in the context of alarmism and exaggeration in support of his political thesis“.

Interestingly, there are nine inaccuracies that as a consequence of a court’s decision “have to be specifically drawn to the attention of school children“:

  • The film claims that melting snows on Mount Kilimanjaro evidence global warming. The Government’s expert was forced to concede that this is not correct.
  • The film suggests that evidence from ice cores proves that rising CO2 causes temperature increases over 650,000 years. The Court found that the film was misleading: over that period the rises in CO2 lagged behind the temperature rises by 800-2000 years.
  • The film uses emotive images of Hurricane Katrina and suggests that this has been caused by global warming. The Government’s expert had to accept that it was “not possible” to attribute one-off events to global warming.
  • The film shows the drying up of Lake Chad and claims that this was caused by global warming. The Government’s expert had to accept that this was not the case.
  • The film claims that a study showed that polar bears had drowned due to disappearing arctic ice. It turned out that Mr Gore had misread the study: in fact four polar bears drowned and this was because of a particularly violent storm.
  • The film threatens that global warming could stop the Gulf Stream throwing Europe into an ice age: the Claimant’s evidence was that this was a scientific impossibility.
  • The film blames global warming for species losses including coral reef bleaching. The Government could not find any evidence to support this claim.
  • The film suggests that sea levels could rise by 7m causing the displacement of millions of people. In fact the evidence is that sea levels are expected to rise by about 40cm over the next hundred years and that there is no such threat of massive migration.
  • The film claims that rising sea levels has caused the evacuation of certain Pacific islands to New Zealand. The Government are unable to substantiate this and the Court observed that this appears to be a false claim.
Categories
catastrophism Climate Change English Politics

Climate Supremacists Cannot Tolerate Any Dissent

I have just stumbled into two examples of all that is wrong with Climate Supremacists’ mindset of impending doom by climate change/global warming: their absolute inability to tolerate any form of dissent, however mild.

First, have a look at Bill McKibben’s review of Bjorn Lomborg’s new book “Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide to Global Warming” (The New York Review of Books, October 11, 2007).

McKibben’s review is a series of invectives against Lomborg, with ample space dedicated to denigratory remarks and the one, solitary invite to visit www.lomborg.com to read anything positive about the Danish author.

I simply cannot remember any article of comparable vitriol on the NYRB during the past 2 years at least. Evidently McKibben holds some grudge against Lomborg: from the former’s remarks, it is apparent that the issue is Lomborg’s questioning of the received wisdom of having to be very, very worried about the evolution of the world’s climate.

It is important to note that Lomborg believes in the scientific consensus of anthropogenic global warming (AGW). Alas, he commits the radical sin of trying to think for himself, of pointing out there are other issues to tackle, and (the shock! the horror!) of having received “right-wing support“.

For all of the above, Lomborg’s work cannot simply be reviewed by McKibben: it has to be demolished along with its author’s reputation, over and over again in sentence after sentence.

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The second example is an inadvertently hilarious piece by Roger Harrabin, BBC Environment Analyst (“The heat and light in global warming“, BBC News Website, October 11, 2007).

After a long analysis on all that is wrong with people that don’t think it appropriate for the movie “An Inconvenient Truth” to be shown to youngsters in schools, Harrabin remarks about his own experience after asking an inconvenient question to Al Gore:

“…after the interview [Al Gore] and his assistant stood over me shouting that my questions had been scurrilous, and implying that I was some sort of climate-sceptic traitor.”

Once again, Harrabin is a firm believer that AGW is happening, and he even shows all signs of worry for the future: still, the one time he tries to think for himself, immediately he’s considered a “traitor”.

Will Roger Harrabin ever connect the dots, and understand that Al Gore’s message on climate is an ideological, all-encompassing, freedoms-destroying credo that cannot leave any space whatsover to any dissent? Some hope!

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It is a constant of history that leaders have been able to curtail freedoms in the name of public safety and a brighter future.

As Climate Supremacists ominously follow those earlier examples, stopping their dictatorial attitudes is the duty of every libertarian and of anybody that takes liberty into consideration.

Categories
English Science Skepticism

Rock-bottom Quality at The Lancet

Plenty of red faces at The Lancet in a few years’ time when somebody will decide to carefully read what they have allowed onto such an esteemed publication:

Food additives and hyperactive behaviour in 3-year-old and 8/9-year-old children in the community: a randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial– www.thelancet.com – published online September 6, 2007 DOI:10.1016/S0140-6736(07)61306-3

To the eye of the busiest readers, such a paper could not be more explicit about the dangers of artificial food colouring and preservatives :

Interpretation: Artificial colours or a sodium benzoate preservative (or both) in the diet result in increased hyperactivity in 3-year-old and 8/9-year-old children in the general population

It’s just too bad that the results published in the very same article warrant such a conclusion not at all.

(1) The study included a tiny sample of 300 children, hardly something meaningful for the “general population”

(2) Unbelievably, importance is given to result of very little statistical significance.

Statistical significance is indicated, as usual, as “p”: in the article, “p=0.044” means the probability of the result being by chance is  1/22. “p=0.02” corresponds to  1/50 and “p=0.023” means 1/44.

In other words, out of 22 results with “p=0.044“, one of them will be statistically bound to be due to chance: and thus, meaningless. In fact, it is best practice for statistical significance to be granted only for “p=0.01” (1/100) or less.

(3) The only result with an acceptable p is “mix B” with “p=0.001” (1/1000). However, that corresponds to an increase in hyperactivity of just 0.17, that is around 8.5% of the threshold (2.0) defined by the authors for Hyperactivity Disorder/ADHD

Such a low value, and the fact that “mix A” has shown no statistically-significant results, can only be interpreted by saying that the impact of artificial colouring and preservatives on ADHD is irrelevant

Note also that if I am not mistaken not even one of the children in the study ever showed any indication of Hyperactivity Disorder. And I will not even be drawn in the discussion of if and how ADHD could truly be measured as claimed in the article.

———–

Oh boy! Could any of that have stopped the UK’s Food Standards Agency (sponsors of the study) from abusing the results to call for a lower use of artificial colouring and preservatives in food? ‘Course not.

Let’s give the FSA their due, though: having classified honey as junk food, incredibly claiming “science” to be on the side of such an abysmally stupid choice, they have to defend their reputation and therefore can only keep misusing “science” to provide foundations to their prejudices, for the foreseeable future.

———–

Should we try to avoid using artificial colouring and preservatives in food, especially for children? Yes. But should we base our choice on inconclusive evidence masquerading it as “scientific”? No. Never.

Because: is it ethical to add meaningless worries to parents already 100% busy with their children and ADHD? No. And it will never be.

———–

And by the way: shame to the science editors that don’t properly read the original articles they decide to write about. Critical eyes should not be confined to movie reviews.

Categories
Burma English Ethics

Total’s Burmese Question

The IHT’s Daniel Altman mentions in his “Managing Globalization” blog French’s giant oil company Total’s reluctance to abandon its Burmese operations.

Despite decades of dictatorship and the ongoing crisis, Total “insists that its presence improves the daily lives of tens of thousands of local people“.

Well, it’s hard to imagine Total as a bunch of virginal angels wondering about their potential wrongdoings. Obviously somebody there decided some time ago it would be a good idea to invest in a dictatorship.

It is even harder to imagine any State giving away its resources for free, so it is obvious that Total is in some sort of revenue-sharing agreement with the Burmese government: hence, Total is financing the continuation of the dictatorship.

Not only that: Burma is the most corrupted country in the world alongside Somalia (according to Transparency International’s 2007 index, reported by the Washington Post on September 27 ). Who would then seriously argue that Total or any other company for that matter has found a way to get oil or gas out of Burma without paying bribes?

That would be nothing short of miraculous. So we can reasonably say that in all probability, there are all the signs that Total is, once again, propping up the Burmese dictatorship (and no, it is not alone).

Therefore the continued presence by Total is directly linked to misery for a little short of 50 million people.

Do the rights of those outweigh Total’s improvements of the “the daily lives of tens of thousands of local people“?

Well, if they don’t, then we could justify any violation of human rights as long as a reasonable amount of people appears to be gaining economically. I wouldn’t be sure that is the way forward.

So what is Total to do? It depends on what the relationship with the Junta is at the moment.

If Total has to be supine because it fears losing the contracts, and it can’t afford to, that would mean the company is running a large risk with his investors’ money, as a critical part of his revenues depends on the vagaries of an unelected number of people rather unpopular the world over, and in their country.

It is high time Total should lower that risk then, for example by moving out of Burma at the first opportunity.

If Total can gain the upper hand instead (as the Burmese Generals need a stable revenue stream, i.e. the bribes), then it should push for the necessary reforms or get out of the country: because if it does not use the power it has, then it is an accomplice in all of the deaths, assaults, tortures and incarceration.

Perhaps Total, despite its size and coffers, cannot really bring change to a country. But it is mandatory for the company to give it at least a try, or else shut up about bringing “improvements” to anybody.

Categories
America English

The Many Fathers of “America”

In the most incredible of coincidences, or perhaps as evidence of mankind’s incredible ability to find patterns everywhere and anywhere (or perhaps as indication of something else I shall not name here), there are at least six different explanations for the origin of the word “America” (with various degrees of credibility):

  • The classical explanation: from the first name of Amerigo Vespucci, the Italian explorer who first figured out that America is a separate continent, not the easternmost part of Asia. Amerigo by the way appears to derive from a Gothic word for “Master Workman”
  • Alternatively, America could be a modification of the Scandinavian Amteric “Land of Eric”, from the times when the Vikings were crossing the Atlantic
  • A related possibility is Ommerike, Norse for “Farthest outland”or derived from Gothic Amalric, “Kingdom of Heaven”
  • There was also a Richard Amerike or Ameryk or Ap Meryke “Son of Meryk”, a Welshman and the King’s official involved with John Cabot’s voyage
  • Remarkably, Amerrique is the name of an Amerindian tribe that lived in present-day Nicaragua, perhaps to be interpreted as “People of the Land of the wind”
  • And why not, there is a Saint Emeric (Latin: “Sanctus Americus“), the Son of the first king of Hungary

For those in search of more details, there is a very interesting essay called “The Naming of America” by Jonathan Cohen, with intriguing reflections on what it means to prefer one explanation over all the others.

FYI: my choice goes to Amerrique. with Vespucci’s name chosen for posterity in the early XVI century by people that could not figure out the actual etymology.

Still, it’s a giant set of coincidences indeed…

Categories
Burma English EU Europe India International Law Myanmar Politics

Burma, Myanmar, India and us

Are we going to let India lead us by our noses once again?

In these hours not that dissimilar from that night on 3 June 1989, hours before the Tian-an-men massacre in Beijing, it may be difficult to think of how to realistically support the demonstrations in Burma, apart from sending more and more appeals for calm to a Military Junta probably second to none in matters of bloody-thirsty repressions and the political and economic strangling of a country.

Still, it is possible to perform three not-just-symbolic gestures:

(1) Categorically refuse the use of “Myanmar” in place of “Burma”.

Even if “quasi-etymologically correct”, “Myanmar” is the invention of the Military Junta, forced upon the country in 1989 with no democratic process at all. If the Burmese will want to change the official “foreign” name of their country to “Myanmar”, they will be able to do so after getting their country back from the usurpers.

More: a couple of years ago the Foreign Minister of Burma protested for the use of “Burma” by the US State Department: all more the reason not to use “Myanmar”.

(2) Let’s publish the names of the dictators.

For way too long the Military Junta of Burma has been treated as a shapeless entity, not as a group of ferocious dictators (humanity-free to the point of denying Aung San Suu Kyi the chance to meet her dying husband for one last time).

Here then some of the persons who should be answering charges in a court of law, instead of commanding Burma against the will of its people:

General Than Shwe – President
General Soe Win – Prime Minister
General Major Nyan Win – Foreign Minister

If we force as much publicity as possible on the names (and pictures) of those in charge of Burma, they won’t be able to hide themselves with the anonymity they have so far much cultivated.

(3) And finally, we should not let India lead us by the nose once again.

Not only many European Governments have underplayed the scandal of the Dhruv helicopters, built also using European supplies and then supplied to the Burmese Junta against every EU embargo rule. It’s worse than that: while outside the Burmese monks were demonstrating, Indian Oil Minister Murli Deora was busy signing a US$150-million agreement for natural gas research in Burma: a clear sign of support of the Junta on the part of a “democratic” Government.

This behaviour is part of New Dehli’s strategic myopia, with India so scared by rebellions in the Northeast to the point of propping up the Burmese Military Junta to get their help in preventing an escalation of those conflicts. And it is based on the apparent impunity when a State goes against rules established by other democratic countries.

If that way of thinking would be intolerable when done by communist China, all the more so for India.

Foreign and International Trade Ministers from all the EU countries (and elsewhere) have a clear duty tonight to apply all possible pressures: including a protest against the present Indian acquiescence, and possible future complicity with the Burmese Junta, before things turn to the worse.

(link to the AVAAZ petition “Stand with the Burmese Protesters”)

Categories
Culture Democracy English Ethics Gender Equality Humanity Sociology

Step Zero in Freeing Up Half of the Human Race

“There can be no safe future without safe motherhood”
Women Deliver global conference (London, 18-20 October)

The very, very first step we need to do to provide at least the possibility of freedom for the whole of humanity, and not just men, is actually made up of two actions:

Step 0.1: diminish the chances of death during pregnancy
Step 0.2: increase the survival rate for children 0-5

In fact, as long as would-be mothers die at the enormous rates of 1 in 6 in places like Sierra Leone and Afghanistan, no wonder the relative value of each of those human beings is not considered that much.

Cynically one would ask why would anybody emotionally attach himself to a person that is quite as likely to die within a year (obviously, in reality things do not work out so simplistic, but still…).

Furthermore, if children die in large numbers (especially in their most vulnerable years, from birth to 5), the only way to nurture some possibility of leaving descendants in this world, is to conceive as many babies as possible.

Having women wait out their entire reproductive lives doing only house chores, with no time for business or political activities whilst going from one pregnancy to the next, becomes then a perfectly logical, if horrendous choice.

Given the fact that death-during-pregnancy and the need of a large number of children just to hope for one’s family not to die have both accompanied humanity for much of its existence, no wonder women have been set aside as virtual slaves for millennia.

And so there is simply no opportunity for “emancipation” if we don’t get mortality rates lower for mother and for young children.

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Luckily but tragically, the solution is not that difficult.

It’s all very feasible stuff and so it is a real tragedy that we have not achieved yet that for all: just as abject poverty and “under-development” are still very widespread.

In truth, there is a precise correlation between those concepts, and the health of women and children is one of the best indicators of how truly “rich” a country is.

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And so: let’s provide education to all the girls, and provide them with all the drugs and all the resources needed to mantain their health and the health of their children.

Otherwise, all efforts may as well go to nothing.